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Penguins Report: Crosby and Malkin Reunite

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have been reunited on the Penguins’ top line. In the most recent episode of line shakeups, the pair will skate together with Pascal Dupuis against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night at 7 p.m.

“It’s important to be surrounded by good people,” Crosby said. “Everyone needs to benefit in a way but at the end of the day everyone is a hockey player. There’s got to be a comfort level. At this point we’ve done so much, everyone is familiar with each other.”

The Penguins’ top three lines haven’t scored a five-on-five goal in the last four games. Head coach Michel Therrien said the drastic line reconfigurations were intended to send a message to his team and find some offense in the wake of the Penguins 4-3 loss to the Washington Capitals on Thursday night.

“(We’re) trying to get the players attention, trying to get line chemistry,” Therrien said. “We did that last year. We played those two together (Crosby and Malkin). We did that in the past. There are a lot of other positive things about that, I believe.”

The new lineup plays out this way: Pascal Dupuis-Sidney Crosby-Evgeni Malkin on the first line; Ruslan Fedotenko-Jordan Staal-Petr Sykora on the second line; Miroslav Satan-Max Talbot-Tyler Kennedy on the third line; and Paul Bissonnette-Bill Thomas-Eric Godard on the fourth line.

Dupuis has experience skating alongside talented linemates. He played on a line with Crosby and Marian Hossa last season and in the playoffs.

“I just have to do my job,” Dupuis said. “Two great players, it’s very similar to Sid and Hossa last year. I’ll forecheck hard. I’ll try to win the battles in the corner and get the puck back to them. They have a lot of talent. I think it makes it easier on me, they’re two great players. I’m not going to change my style.”

Staal moves back to center on the second line. It should be an easy transition for him because it’s the position that he’s played most of his career.

“It’s a chance for Jordan (Staal) to get back to (his) natural position,” Therrien.

“I’m excited about it,” Staal said. “I feel comfortable in both positions. Whatever is best for the team, I’ll play. Hopefully I can play a solid two-way game and at the same time, put the puck into the back of the net.”

There is, as usual, an acclimation process with learning new linemates. However, Staal believes that the adjustment won’t be too difficult because of the team’s scheme.

“Everyone knows the system and everyone knows how to play it,” he said. “It doesn’t really matter who you’re playing with. Coach likes to change the lines up a lot. You just have to get used to it I guess.”

Changing lines is nothing new for Therrien. He has juggled lines regularly, sometimes trying to find the right combinations or to get an offensive spark. Therrien frequently paired Crosby and Malkin on a line when the Penguins trail in a game.

“You’ve got to work with the chemistry and you have to give it time,” Therrien said. “I’m not saying they're going to remain together for the rest of the season.”

For now though, Therrien expects some fire power from his new top line.

We know that when we’re put together that we have to make things happen. We want to make sure we respond. - Sidney Crosby
“We know that when we’re put together that we have to make things happen,” Crosby said. “We want to make sure we respond.”

Matt Cooke and Mike Zigomanis both missed practice Friday at Southpointe. Cooke has missed the last three practices and Pittsburgh’s 4-3 loss to Washington on Thursday night.

Zigomanis is the only Penguin to score a five-on-five goal in the last four games. It marked the first practice he’s missed since joining the Penguins organization and his playing status is unknown for Saturday’s game against Toronto.

“We’re not sure yet,” Therrien said. “Hopefully he’ll be alright to play.”

If Zigomanis can't play then Pittsburgh native Bill Thomas will centered the fourth line with Eric Godard and Paul Bissonnette.

Speaking of Bissonnette, the rookie celebrated his first game in Pittsburgh with a knockout of former Penguin Matt Bradley.

“I was excited for my first fight at Mellon Arena,” Bissonnette said. “(I) was just trying to get the fans going. They just scored a goal so (I was) just trying to get the momentum back.”

Bissonnette landed several shots to Bradley’s head and caused him to bleed. After sitting in the penalty box, Bradley had to go to the locker room for stitches.

“It just so happened I got a punch through,” Bissonnette said. “Actually the first two got his nose and then I kind of lost my balance. I got right back up. I think he thought I was off-balance and he tried to give me a left and kind of just opened up.”

Bradley returned in the third period and Bissonnette made sure that there were no hard feelings between the two combatants.

“Obviously you don’t want to see a guy get hurt like that,” Bissonnette said. “Luckily he came back. When he went down I tried to see if he was alright. I actually asked in the third if he was OK.”

Bissonnette made the Penguins roster out of training camp. He knows his role is to be physical, play well defensively and, when needed, drop the gloves. So far, he's 1-0 in the fighting category but he won’t let it go to his head.

I’m a fighter. You’re going to win some, you’re going to lose some. - Paul Bissonnette
“I’m a fighter,” he said. “You’re going to win some, you’re going to lose some. I’ll take it with a grain of salt.”

He said it: Michel Therrein on the team facing adversity:

“I’ve never been against adversity. If you have good people and good athletes who care, it’s going to make you better, make you better as a player, better as a team. We faced adversity last year. We faced adversity two years ago. I believe those guys have proven in the past that they always learn from adversity. I’m expecting the same thing this year.”


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